Travel writing is a genre rife with fantasies of escape, luxury, and finding oneself through an experience in an unfamiliar place—in other words, colonial tropes. Is it possible to write about travel while decolonizing the narrative? What can contemporary literature tell us about the relationship between tourists and service workers, and can it provide more authentic ways of knowing places that have been branded to Western tourists as pleasure zones? Join us for a reading with Canadian writer Farzana Doctor, who joins us for the US launch of All Inclusive, her book written from the perspective of a worker at a Mexican resort, queer travel writer and activist Bani Amor, writer and professor Tiphanie Yanique, whose debut novel, Land and Love of Drowning chronicles the changes in the US Virgin Islands over the 20th century and who recently wrote “Americans in a Battered Paradise” about the devastation of Hurricane Irma in The New York Times. They will be joined by Julia Hori, a graduate student who researches the colonial underpinnings of tourism in the Caribbean.
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Bani Amor is a queer travel writer from Brooklyn by way of Ecuador who explores diasporic identities, the decolonization of travel culture, and the intersections of race, place and power in their work. They've been published in Teen Vogue, Bitch Magazine, Paste Magazine, and Nowhere Magazine, among other outlets, and is a three-time VONA/Voices Fellow. Their work is anthologized in Brooklyn Boihood's Outside the XY: Queer Black and Brown Masculinity, and the upcoming Where We Stand: Black and Brown Voices Speak the Earth. Follow them on twitter @bani_amor. Check out their discussion with Farzana Doctor about All Inclusive in On She Goes, and their standout piece about decolonizing travel culture, “The Fragility of the Western Traveler,” in Bitch Magazine.
What’s it like when everyone’s dream vacation is your job? In Farzana Doctor’s All-Inclusive (Dundurn, 2017), Ameera, a worker at a Mexican resort, can hardly call her life paradisical. Bored, she balances her free time between hooking up with the tourists on vacation and hiding said activities from her coworkers. As the vacationers drift in and out of both the resort and Ameera’s sex life, the ghost of Ameera’s father attempts a reconnection with her. Austin Clarke writes, “In her startling and evocative description of people in the tourist industry, All Inclusive is more than just a title.” Toronto-based Doctor is the author of three novels, was the recipient of the Writer’s Trust of Canada’s Dayne Ogilvie Grant in 2011, and curates the Brockton Writers series.
Tiphanie Yanique’s debut novel, Land of Love and Drowning (Riverhead, 2014) is an epic family saga set in the early 1900s when the Virgin Islands are transferred from Danish to American rule. After Captain Owen Arthur Bradshaw dies in a shipwreck, his children rely on their magical powers to make it to the next generation, while the transfer to American colonial control irrevocably changes their relationship to mainland and their own island. The book received the Flaherty Dunnan First Novel Prize and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Rosenthal Award for Considerable Literary Talent. Edwidge Danticat writes, “Tiphanie Yanique’s tremendous talents and incredible storytelling will astound you and leave you breathless.” Yanique is also the author of the short story collection How To Escape from a Leper Colony (Graywolf, 2010), and most recently a collection of poetry, Wife (Peepal Tree Press, 2015). Tiphanie is from St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, and currently teaches at Wesleyan University, where she directs the Creative Writing Program.
Julia Hori is a Doctoral Candidate in English at Princeton University who researches the competing legacies of transatlantic history and memory in the postcolonial Caribbean. She presented at the Theorizing the Web Conference in 2015 about how social media sites like TripAdvisor show how colonial frameworks are reinscribed over traumatic histories of slavery through “cultural heritage tourism”. As the blogger and academic Sky Croeser remarked, the TripAdvisor reviews “reveal a desire for all places to be welcoming to (Western) tourists, no matter how historically hunted they are.” She recently published a research paper about restored slave ports and the Royal Caribbean Historic Falmouth Cruise Terminal in Jamaica in American Quarterly.
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